(This letter is in response to Paul Reid’s letter ‘Teacher, leave our kids alone’, parent quotes song in the climate change speaker debate published in the April 18 North Star.)
I would argue that a great teacher is one who routinely facilitates opportunities for students to make connections from their own lives to the much bigger world around them in a meaningful way. There are hundreds, if not thousands of examples of educators making these connections everyday to help to their students. That, after all, is their job and one which the citizens of this province count on them to do. In the most recent edition of the North Star there is positive press about the elementary school chess tournament and the Timbits Provincial Elementary Curling Bonspiel. Both these events were organized by teachers trying to make connections to learning for their students.
It appears to me that a number of educators and administrators at Parry Sound High School attempted to make relevant learning connections for their pupils when they brought Gwynne Dyer to speak about the geopolitics of climate change. After all, with a quick reference of the Ontario curriculum the inclusion of climate change within the subjects of geography and science are listed from early elementary school to the end of high school. The public school teachers in Ontario are required to teach about climate change. It seems to me that by inviting in a world renowned speaker to discuss some of the real-life effects of climate change in the students world, the teachers were attempting to make important learning connections.
Whether or not readers of the North Star agree with the message of a guest speaker is not the real issue in this situation. After all, disagreement can allow for positive dialogue. If a speaker is expressing information from the Ontario curriculum, then the offended reader should take argument with the Ministry of Education who set the curriculum expectations in consultation with many Canadian and Global agencies, and not the teachers who are trying to bring relevant and current information to the students.
Teachers may not always hit the mark with their efforts, but please don’t criticize them for trying. Be fair in your arguments - if your beef is with content in the curriculum, you should take it up with the Ontario government.